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Climate and Environment

Cleanup Continues After Storm Topples Trees, Floods Roads. New Storm System Will Be Far More Mild

A Buddha statue stands in front of snow-covered mountains.
The view from Acton on Sunday.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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The big winter storm that hit Southern California left behind magnificent snow-covered mountains, and a lot of cleanup work. As of Tuesday morning, 14,000 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers still had no power.

LADWP officials said they'd already restored power to 143,000 customers, adding in an earlier tweet that "crews won’t stop until all are restored."

Don't miss: Before And After: Satellite Images Show Southern Californias's Massive Snowfall From Space

One crew member was seriously injured while on the job in San Fernando Valley on Saturday and remains in intensive care.

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"This accident and serious injury of our employee is a reminder that our line crews and other field personnel are truly unsung heroes who work in hazardous conditions risking their lives to keep the power flowing across our city," said LADWP General Manager Martin Adams in a statement on Sunday. “The safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, and we are praying that he makes a full recovery.”

Current LADWP outage map

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, an additional 1,800 Southern California Edison customers were without power — just nine of those are in L.A. County and more than 600 are in San Bernardino County.

What's next

A new, milder storm system moved into the area Sunday night.

Wednesday is expected to see the most amount of rain for the week but Dave Bruno with the National Weather Service assures this week's rain will be unlike the kind brought from the weekend storm.

Still, ski resorts like Mountain High can expect up to a foot or more of additional snow. Major mountain passes like the Grapevine will still get some dusting of snow, so Bruno said travelers should be on the lookout for road conditions.

Once the rain is over Wednesday, strong winds should be on our radar.

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"It looks like we're gonna be in for some strong northwest winds..." Bruno said. "So at that point we might have to worry about more significant wind problems, but that's still a few days away and we just have to get through these rain events."

But if the winter storms in January taught us anything — it's to stay alert for what comes after the storm.

"If you live in or near a burn area, I would just keep your guard up," Bruno said.

We have a checklist for what to do in between storm breaks and additional prep tips from L.A. fire officials.

Check the latest information

Where to find the latest information

The storm by the numbers

This storm brought L.A. County's coastal and valley areas anywhere from 3 to 11 inches of rain. The snow totals were significantly higher. Mountain High got more than 90 inches of snowfall. Mount Wilson got 40 inches. Frazier Park, near the Grapevine, got between 20 and 25 inches.

"In terms of widespread low-elevation snow, like we saw, it's the most impressive that I've seen in my career out here in Southern California," said Rich Thompson, National Weather Service meteorologist. "So, definitely was not your run-of-the-mill winter storm for Southern California."

Road closures

As of 2 p.m. Sunday:

  • The 5 through the Tejon Pass is open.
  • The 2 and 39 are still closed in both directions.
  • As are the 330 and 18.
  • In Orange County, PCH is now open in Huntington Beach. It was closed from Seapoint Street to Warner Avenue due to flooding.

Both Caltrans and the L.A. County Department of Public Works have road closures and conditions listed on their sites. Please check these links for the most up-to-date information.

Where mudslides are a concern

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is anticipating debris flows in some recently burned areas through Sunday, including near the:

  • Land fire burn scar in La Tuna Canyon
  • Fish fire burn scar in Duarte
  • Grandview fire burn scar in Glendale
  • Ranch2 fire burn scar  in Mountain Cove
  • Bobcat fire burn scar in Monrovia, Juniper Hills, Devil’s Punchbowl, and Valyermo
  • Lake fire burn scar in Lake Hughes
  • Tujunga fire burn scar in Sunland-Tujunga
  • Soledad fire burn scar in Agua Dulce
  • Equestrian fire burn scar in Castaic

Where to find winter shelters in L.A. and Orange counties

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is offering over 500 motel vouchers for the unhoused population due to the severe weather. For a referral to the site closest to you, call 211.

"Not only will 211 tell you where to go, but they can arrange transportation either through a LAHSA outreach team or other means to ensure that that person gets to a safe bed tonight," said Ahmad Chapman, LAHSA's communications director.

Outreach workers have been visiting encampments near rivers and creeks, offering sleeping bags and tents, and showing people where to seek higher ground if they don't want access to the winter shelter programs, as well.

Here are the other shelter sites throughout Los Angeles County:

[View the document here if it doesn't load above for you: L.A. County winter shelters]

Shelters have been in demand.

On Wednesday night in Orange County, the Cold Weather Emergency Shelter reached full occupancy for the first time, with 90 individuals experiencing homelessness staying the night. The shelter provides meals and showers, and transportation to the shelter is available.

It's a fairly recent addition to the area. OC officials didn't open the shelter until Feb. 1, even though storms have been battering California residents for months.

The California Office of Emergency Services has posted a list of warming centers throughout the state.

Tips on staying warm

  • State law requires residential units to have heating systems that can keep indoor temperatures at a minimum of 70 degrees. That means every dwelling unit and guest room offered for rent or lease should offer heating equipment, usually central air conditioning (A/C) or a wall heater. — Caitlin Hernández

  • Use heat smartly to save money: Cranking things like the A/C and wall heaters can be expensive. If money is tight, be judicious about how and when you use your utilities. For example, only use heaters at night or only set the thermostat to around 70 degrees.

  • Open and close those vents: If you have central A/C, look at where the vents are around your home. Are any open in places where you don’t stay long? Practice opening and closing those so warm air only goes where you need it (most vents should have a small toggle lever). Humidifiers can also help you warm things up — and it’s useful to add moisture into our dry air.

  • Adjust your wall heaters: If you have a wall heater, you can change the output by adjusting the knob (usually at the bottom). Since wall heaters can only warm the areas where they’re placed, it’s essential to close doors to rooms you won’t be in so hot air doesn’t get wasted.

  • Turn on your ceiling fan (really): If you have a ceiling fan, try turning it on. This sounds counterintuitive, but there’s science behind it. The direction a fan turns can push air in different directions, and since hot air floats up, you’ll want to move that around. Your fan should spin clockwise to create an updraft to circulate. Not all fans will have this option, though.

There's positive news for the drought

About 30% of California's water comes from the snow up in the Sierra, and as of Friday, the snow levels are at 142% of our April 1 average. So far, weather experts say the year is looking favorable for making progress on the drought.

The snowpack matters because ideally it will melt slowly over the coming months (usually starting in May), so that the water has an opportunity to percolate deep into the ground and feed plants, trees, rivers, and reservoirs long into our dry season.

Whether that happens depends on the type of weather we see. Higher temperatures could hit us at any time, get to work melting the snow and increasing evaporative demand. In that case, things will start to dry faster than is ideal and greater stress will be put on our landscapes. Rising temperatures as a result of climate change are taking a toll, and it’s important to remember that the next big drought year could be right around the corner.

How we're covering this

Gillian Morán Pérez is reporting on conditions Monday. Over the weekend, Rebecca Gutierrez and Julia Paskin spoke to the National Weather Service and other authorities. Jacob Margolis, who covers science, contributed background information. Additional LAist staff are contributing.

What questions do you have about the weather we're experiencing?
A massive winter storm is hitting Southern California. We're here to answer your questions.

Updated February 25, 2023 at 11:10 AM PST
Additional information about power outages has been added to this report. Additional reporting from the National Weather Service was added to this report.
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